Our community began (in some respects, however unintentionally) during the ending days of the Cube Lovers Mailing List. My personal interest in re-collecting Rubik's variations occured during May 1998 just before I was engaged to be married. After scouring the internet looking for the variations I remembered from school, I came across Cube Lovers Archive
, Jerry Slocum's forum, David Singmaster's notes
, Hendrik Haak's Puzzle Museum
and the Virtual Puzzle Museum.
From there I first discovered the concept of hand-made cube variations, by people like Tony Fisher, Christoph Bandelow, and a handful of others. We didn't have the good quality digital cameras and scanners in 1999 that we do now, so the images of these incredible variations were sometimes a little hard to make out in detail.
Some of these early puzzles shown online were: Trajber's Octahedron, Fisher Cube, Fisher 2, Nova, SuperNova, Bandaged Cube, & Stern.
Also, based on the little information available on the internet, it was very difficult to work out what puzzles were actually manufactured and what was hand-made. Remember, these were the ending days of the Cube Lovers, and most members would have by now moved on to other things in life.
The legendary Tony Fisher was something of an ABBA... very famous in the day by the people in the scene at the time, but appeared to be somewhat of a recluse. Not true of course, but his non-existence on the internet, and no contact information, perhaps he was long gone from the scene. In fact, there was a Tony Fisher on the internet that could have been a potential match but he was deceased.
But let's wind back a sec... some of these things were hand-made? How can that be unless these guys were somehow able to form plastic?
Isn't this impossible without expensive machinery? This kind of information was nowhere to be found, or vague to say the least. So if I wanted to make my own versions of the puzzles long gone, or pictured on the internet, how was I going to do it?
My first discussions with people in various trades pointed to wood as the only real option. If I could craft pieces from wood, that would be the only way to get a solid object. What about that baking material (Fima)? What about plastic? These guys creating puzzle variations must be using some sort of plastic...?
No-one seemed to know anything about it. Eventually I was given a tip to consider rubber molding and plastic casting. I knew nothing about it so after quite a bit of research, I managed to get some latex rubber, and polyester resin. Of course the results of using those materials were very sad.
Later I found that people used silicone rubber (rather than latex) and polyurethane resin (rather than polyester) for creating exact models, which is the staple of what most of us use nowadays.
The original Twisty Megasite. Click the image to view the full screen shot.
I posted all my info on my website around March 1999 and called it the Twistymegasite. Soon after, I received a lot of communication and started meeting all sorts of people: David Singmaster, Jiri Fridrich, Chris Pelley, Juozas Granskas
, Geert Hellings
, Jake Bartlett
, Doug Mueller
, Jaap Scherphuis
, and many others. So it was a natural progression that there be a forum to discuss all these puzzles, materials, how to collect, how to make, and how to connect all these individuals out there.
We have migrated through three different message forums: Network54.com (screen shot), Twistymegasite custom (screen shot), and finally TwistyPuzzles.com.
In the same way, the Virtual Puzzle Museum had three different homes: VirtualPuzzleMuseum.com (screen shot), calormen.com/vpm, and finally TwistyPuzzles.com.
For a bit of retrospective fun, a date order of events is listed below, and some notable things that happened along the way:
The original Twistymegasite forum hosted on Network54.com. Click the image to view the full screen shot.
The Twistymegasite forum opened on 24th of November 1999. It was a free forum created at Network54, and skinned to look like the megasite. Our first 20 members/posters:
- biffman - Tue Nov 30, 1999
- Steve Adler - Thu Dec 09, 1999
- Juozas Granskas - Thu Dec 16, 1999
- Tim Browne - Sun Dec 19, 1999
- Jerry - Sun Feb 06, 2000
- Hendrik Haak - Mon Feb 07, 2000
- darryl - Fri Feb 18, 2000
- Doug M. - Tue Mar 14, 2000
- jaap - Wed Mar 15, 2000
- pharle - Thu Mar 16, 2000
- philipk - Fri Apr 07, 2000
- katsmom - Sun Apr 16, 2000
- Darren Grewe - Sat Apr 22, 2000
- Wassholm - Mon May 22, 2000
- Oscar - Mon Jun 12, 2000
- Mark Longridge - Tue Jul 25, 2000
- Carter - Sat Dec 02, 2000
- Joshua Bell - Fri Dec 08, 2000
- Michael - Sun Jan 14, 2001
- James East - Sun May 27, 2001
Interesting to note that Katsmom (Rox) and Carter were in our first 20, and the two resident (mums/moms) of the group. They probably didn't realise it, but their presence was very instrumental in keeping our behaviour in check.
The original Virtual Puzzle Museum. Click the image to view the full screen shot.
Wayback Machine records first known date of Virtual Puzzle Museum as: May 27, 2000 (does anyone have the official date?)
- January 7, 2002, Denny Dedmore (Cubologist) announced closure of Virtual Puzzle Museum set for February 1, 2003, and all content to transfer to Joshua Bell to the site of: calormen.com/vpm.
Denny was quite happy that someone else would take over the hosting, and proud that his solution pages would continue to be served.
- Sandy's first post in the community: January 23, 2002
- virtualpuzzlemuseum.com went offline February 4, 2002 and Joshua Bell takes over the Virtual Puzzle Museum at calormen.com/vpm.
- Virtual Puzzle Museum at calormen.com/vpm goes live around March 21, 2002.
The original Twisty Puzzles design. Click the image to view the full screen shot.
TwistyPuzzles.com is launched and announced as the new (and third) Virtual Puzzle Museum site on June 30, 2002.
Joshua Bell had grand visions and could keep the VPM content alive, just didn't have time to retrofit the site from a collection of hand generated pages into a database.
He worked with Sandy Thompson to write some tools that converted the hand-generated HTML and image collection into a "structured data format" that Sandy used to seed the TwistyPuzzles database.
The custom Twisty Megasite forum. Click the image to view the full screen shot.
On December 16, 2002, a new custom forum is released on the megasite, and all messages from the free Network54 are brought across. It was a primitive forum. There were no registrations required, you just entered your name, post and away you went. No spam in the good old days.
- calormen.com/vpm traffic is finally transferred fully to Twistypuzzles making it the final home for the Virtual Puzzle Museum on January 7, 2003.
- Discussions are started February 14, 2003 between Wayne & Sandy regarding a possible merger of content into one site.
- Discussions revisited July 4, 2003.
- Discussions revisited yet again September 18, 2003.
- Discussions continue November 5, 2003 (Gosh, Sandy, sorry you had to put a rocket under me to get this moving along - what was I doing?)
- Forum data conversion work begins November 11, 2003. Wayne tries to get the data in a usable state and Sandy writes scripts to make the data compatible with the TwistyPuzzles forum.
- Forum conversion method resolved January 14, 2004.
- Twistymegasite closure notice was placed on January 31, 2004.
- First demo trial is tested February 2, 2004.
- Last megasite "custom forum" post was: February 5, 2004.
The redesigned Twisty Puzzles site, incorporating the Twisty Megasite content and forum. Click the image to view the full screen shot.
Twistypuzzles.com forum is opened February 5, 2004 and registrations begin for the first time.
- First TwistyPuzzles post: February 5, 2004 at 6:03 pm by cubehead22. First reply: February 5, 2004 at 8:43 pm by Darren Grewe
- Joshua Bell predicts September 16, 2004 the printing of puzzles before the twisty community turns 10:
"Just wait for the prices to drop over the next few years. I'll wager a Dogic that before TwistyPuzzles.com turns 10 we'll be posting 3D CAD files that we can individually upload to FedExKinkos.com to have fabricated and have the resulting puzzle overnighted to us by 8am the next day."
He wasn't far off the money.
- Tony Fisher Joins Twisty Puzzles forum March 27, 2005.
- Then for a long time, nothing happened... actually no. In the last three years 2006 - 2008 we have seen a massive rise in the number of puzzle creations. The growth and participation of this community has far exceeded the expectations of anyone throughout our transitions in the past.
- Finally, on October 09, 2008, we added a third moderator, Jin H Kim, making it an average one new moderator every three years.
I know I've said it before, but it's worth stating again how proud I am of the people who visit this forum and of the community as a whole. There's no place like it on the internet. A lot of people have worked very hard over the last 9 years to ensure that it is the way it is.
We owe Sandy a great deal of gratitude for his vision, and the sacrifices that he has made, taking time out from his family to create and modify the software needed to run a forum and puzzle database. He successfully integrated the best twisty puzzle resources on web to make them available at the one place.
And it's a pretty good place, wouldn't you think? And there is a whole lot more in the pipeline... but that's shhhh.....
Thank you to Joshua Bell with help with some of the VPM dates and info.